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Critical condition: 28 ambulance companies close in NYS

May 21, 2019 11:42 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- Tonight, in our community, someone is going to call 911 because they need an ambulance. 

But so many volunteer ambulance companies have closed in New York, the state's director of Emergency Medical Services worries if help will get to our neighbors on time.

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This is a problem that News10NBC has been exposing for you. 

For two months, we've been showing you how small-town ambulance companies are running out of money. They say they don't get paid enough and sometimes the money they're owed never gets to them. 

Now, the problem we've investigated for you is hitting the desk of the top official in the state.

"Obviously, since the last meeting, we've had a couple of closures come up that has hit the news and been fairly public," said Ryan Greenberg, director of Bureau of EMS, Trauma Systems in New York. 

At a meeting two weeks ago Tuesday, Greenberg was asked about ambulance closures. 

"Unfortunately, when we look back and we look at 2018, we had almost 20 closures of EMS agencies throughout the state in 2018," Greenberg said. "And it looks like we're going in a similar fashion for this year."

Think about that for a moment. 

There were almost 20 closures last year, and they are on pace for the same this year. 

That's the problem we're tracking.

In April, Avon Ambulance closed. After 60 years it just ran out of money. We were there just days before they locked the doors. 

"You get the notification, 'hey, by the way, three days from now we're not going to exist,'" said Jeremy Harris, former acting chief of Avon Ambulance. 

The day before that, we showed the financial straits of Le Roy Ambulance. Its president and vice president told News10NBC they're owed more than $160,000 because patients keep the insurance checks that should go to the ambulance.

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "If nothing happens, what will happen?"

Dane Sprague, VP of Le Roy Ambulance Service: "We will close."

Bob Boyce, president of Le Roy Ambulance Service: "Close the doors."

When the state director of EMS confirmed the closures, we asked the state Department of Health for the official list. On May 17, we got it.

And look at the reaction it gets. 

Brean: "This is a list of all the ambulance services that shut down..."

Margay Blackman, mayor of Brockport: "Oh wow. Holy cow."

Brean: "...and already this year."

Blackman: "Wow."

Blackman is the mayor of Brockport, a village that just re-started its volunteer ambulance after it suddenly closed two years ago.

Click here for our full story on News10NBC at 11 p.m. as Blackman explains why she thinks the ambulance service can survive this time.

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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